Windspeaker

Canada's National Aboriginal News Source

“Two Soft Things, Two Hard Things” begins a conversation

Author: 
By Andrea Smith Windspeaker Contributor OTTAWA
Volume: 
34
Issue: 
11
Year: 
2016

A new film based in Nunavut is teaching people about gender norms in the north. The film, called “Two Soft Things, Two Hard Things,” focuses in on a Pride Day event in Iqaluit, celebrating the LGBTQ2 community there—lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer and two-spirited.

Directors Mark Woods and Mike Yerxa heard about it and flew up to the area to catch the action, finding an opportunity to educate the audience—and themselves—in the process.

“We as southerners knew very little about the history. We’re not really taught it in schools growing up, and I was certainly embarrassed about how little I knew… the colonization of the Northwest Territories and Christianization of that area have really impacted attitudes towards sexuality and gender,” said Yerxa, giving insight into the basic premise of the movie.

“We got a crash course and met some very beautiful people willing to tell us their stories,” he said.

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Lawyer charts a path for acknowledgment of Indigenous law

Author: 
By Andrea Smith Windspeaker Contributor
Volume: 
34
Issue: 
11
Year: 
2016

Aimee Craft’s years of hard work are being acknowledged this month. Craft is an Indigenous lawyer (Anishinaabe and Metis) and assistant professor at the University of Manitoba. She is being recognized by Canadian Lawyer Magazine as one of its “Top 25 Most Influential.”

The magazine received 135 nominations; then polled readers for its final results. There are five categories in total, with five honorees in each. Craft was voted into the “Young Influencers” category.

“I knew I had been nominated, but there were quite a few nominations in the category. I actually found out the day of… I learned from a friend who posted it on Facebook,” said Craft.

“I was pretty excited, but very surprised,” she said.

Craft is being honored for her work in “Anishinaabe and Canadian Aboriginal law,” writes the magazine. She specializes in Treaty and Aboriginal Rights, as well as Environmental and Regulatory Law.

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Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie says First Nations in good hands with PM

Author: 
By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor KINGSTON, Ont.
Volume: 
34
Issue: 
11
Year: 
2016

“In any type of a revolution, we always say, it’s the poets and the musicians and the gifted that take the lead and frame the new thinking in advance of everyone else,” said Stephen Kakfwi, president and CEO of Canadians for a New Partnership.

The Tragically Hip lead man and singer Gord Downie did just that Saturday night when he addressed concert goers in his hometown of Kingston – and right across the country in a CBC broadcasted and livestreamed event – and said, “We’re in good hands, folks, real good hands. [Prime Minister Justin Trudeau] cares about the people way up north, that we were trained our entire lives to ignore, trained our entire lives to hear not a word of what’s going on up there. And what’s going on up there ain’t good. It’s maybe worse than it’s ever been, so it’s not on the improve.

[But] “we’re going to get it fixed and we got the guy to do it, to start, to help.”

Trudeau was among those in attendance at the Rogers K-Rock Centre.

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‘Normal crime’ scenario fuels racism accusations in Boushie shooting

Author: 
By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor BIGGAR, Sask.
Volume: 
34
Issue: 
10
Year: 
2016

The shooting death of 22-year-old Colten Boushie has rocked the province of Saskatchewan. Claims of racism are widespread, and paint the RCMP, a farmer charged with second-degree murder, and the people of Saskatchewan all with that same racist brush.

Boushie and four others drove into farmer Gerald Stanley’s rural property near Biggar to ask for help with a flat tire on their truck, according to an account by one of Boushie’s companions on Aug. 9.

Eric Meechance alleges a man swore at the young people when they entered his property, then shot at them, shattering the truck’s front window. Meechance and another person fled. Boushie was declared dead at the scene by emergency responders.

Stanley, 54, has been charged with second-degree murder.

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Ella Dawn Green [footprints]

Author: 
By Dianne Meili
Volume: 
34
Issue: 
10
Year: 
2016

Iskatewizaagegan Elder taught sacred ecology

 

Wisdom keepers like the late Ogimaamakoons, Ella Dawn Green, generously provided sacred knowledge to bolster the Annishinaabe certainty that human beings are more than just consumers of the earth’s resources.

Green joined other Iskatewizaagegan (Shoal Lake) Elders to speak of Gimiinigoowizimin – a term that roughly means “keeper of the gifts” – in a journal of Ethnobiology published in 2005. They conveyed the idea that the gifts given for survival are to be, in turn, cared for as a moral responsibility.

This requires establishing a relationship with other beings in the Creator’s garden, she said, and being aware that mistreating them can lead to unwelcome incidents, such as an illness or misfortune in one’s own life path.

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Commission has authority to conduct MMIWG inquiry as “they see fit”

Author: 
By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor OTTAWA
Volume: 
34
Issue: 
9
Year: 
2016

August 3, 2016.

The chief commissioner for the national inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls says she and the other four commissioners accept the “serious responsibilities” that have been given to them.

This morning, British Columbia judge Marion Buller was named as chief commissioner for the inquiry. She is joined by Michele Audet, Qajag Robinson, Marilyn Poitras and Brian Eyolfson. All members are Indigenous.

“Our goal is to make concrete recommendations that will ensure the safety of our women and our girls in our communities,” said Buller, after the work undertaken by the three ministers who led the pre-inquiry was symbolically passed on to her in a birch basket containing a memory stick. “We are committed to doing the difficult work ahead of us.”

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Collaboration is formalized with new protocol agreement

Author: 
Windspeaker Staff
Volume: 
34
Issue: 
9
Year: 
2016

A new protocol agreement in British Columbia is all about collaboration, and realizing the goals of the Aboriginal Post-Secondary Education and Training Policy Framework and Action Plan, penned in 2012.

The agreement was signed July 8 by Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson, First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) President Tyrone McNeil and Indigenous Adult and Higher Learning Association (IAHLA) Chair Verna Billy-Minnabarriet in Vancouver.

 

Photo: A new protocol agreement will support collaboration to improve educational outcomes for Aboriginal post-secondary students in British Columbia.

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Gwaii Haanas to benefit from unprecedented Parks Canada investments

Author: 
Windspeaker Staff
Volume: 
34
Issue: 
9
Year: 
2016

 
On July 7, Catherine McKenna, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, joined the Council of the Haida Nation President Kil tlaats ‘gaa Peter Lantin to announce more than $650,000 in infrastructure investments in Gwaii Haanas.

The investments will support projects that directly benefit the Haida’s use of the area, as well as new visitor experiences.

Two pools will be built to capture new locations of thermal water flow and offer visitors the opportunity to experience the hotsprings that were lost when the 2012 earthquake struck Haida Gwaii.

There will be upgrades to the boardwalk at SGang Gwaay Llnagaay, which will allow the Haida Gwaii Watchmen and visitors to safely access the site while protecting these culturally and ecologically sensitive areas.

These upgrades will also make the site more accessible to those with mobility needs.

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Indigenous language revitalization degree heads to Saskatoon

Author: 
Windspeaker Staff
Volume: 
34
Issue: 
9
Year: 
2016

 
The University of Victoria is setting up shop in Saskatoon, bringing a Master’s degree in Indigenous language to the prairie city.

UVic already offers a successful—and the only—master’s degree in the country specializing in Indigenous language revitalization, and it has drawn people from across Canada.

Now the program travels east from British Columbia to the University of Saskatchewan.

The goals of the program are to ensure a generation of language experts will have the language and academic skills to partici­pate and lead successful language revitalization efforts in Indigenous communities, and to develop language scholars who will have the expertise to support post-secondary instruction in the revital­ization, recovery and maintenance of Indigenous languages.

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Urban reconciliation welcome [Letter]

Author: 
Letter to the Editor
Volume: 
34
Issue: 
9
Year: 
2016

Urban reconciliation welcome
 
In the 1950s and ‘60s I grew up in the west end of Toronto where I attended public and high schools in the now defunct Etobicoke School Board.

As a child, I really did not understand that I was being treated differently from my classmates simply because I was recognized as an Indian.

As an adult, I have come to understand that my negative treatment was the result of the same social attitudes that were responsible for the residential school system and its deplorable treatment of Aboriginal students.

Astonishingly on June 30, 2016, as Dr. Bob Phillips, I was invited to Burnhamthorpe Collegiate to address the graduating class a half-century after having been thrown out of that same high school.

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Thunder Bay inquest: Transition students to prepare them, and keep them connected to home

Author: 
By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor THUNDER BAY, Ont.
Volume: 
34
Issue: 
9
Year: 
2016

Quinn Meawasige believes that the 145 recommendations that came from a coroner’s jury earlier this week have firmly at the centre of them the seven young people who died over an 11-year period in the city of Thunder Bay.

“I think their stories were very much a part of the inquest,” said Meawasige, member of the Ontario First Nations Young People’s Council, which participated in the inquest and contributed to the recommendations considered by the five-member jury.

In October 2015, the Ontario coroner began its inquest into the deaths of Jethro Anderson, 15, Curran Strang, 18, Robyn Harper, 19, Paul Panacheese, 21, Reggie Bushie, 15, Kyle Morrisseau, 17 and Jordan Wabasse, 15.

All seven youths left their Nishnawbe Aski Nation communities to attend high schools in Thunder Bay, six at Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School and one at the Matawa Learning Centre. They all died between November 2000 and May 2011.

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Field lacrosse tourney will be a dogfight for gold

Author: 
By Sam Laskaris Windspeaker Contributor COQUITLAM, B.C.
Volume: 
34
Issue: 
9
Year: 
2016

The Iroquois Nationals will be among those looking to dethrone the only team that has ever won the world boys’ under-19 field lacrosse championship.

The 2016 tournament, which runs July 7 to July 16 in Coquitlam, B.C., will feature 14 entrants.

The United States has captured the gold medal at all seven previous world tournaments. The event was first held in 1988.

Early on and in recent times the tournament was held every four years. But there has also been as little as three years and as many as five years between events.

The last tournament was held in Turku, Finland in 2012.

The Iroquois Nationals did defeat the U.S. in a round-robin match at the 2012 championships. But it was the Americans and Canadians that advanced to the gold medal game, with the U.S. winning 10-8.

The Iroquois Nationals registered a convincing 18-1 triumph versus England in the bronze-medal match.

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Is Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne the new face of colonialism in Canada?

Author: 
By Barb Nahwegahbow Windspeaker Contributor TORONTO
Volume: 
34
Issue: 
9
Year: 
2016

Grassy Narrows First Nation and supporters continue to hike up the pressure on Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario government to clean up the Wabigoon-English River systems of toxic mercury waste.

On July 7, prominent environmental, labour and social justice leaders marched through downtown Toronto to the Ontario Legislature where they delivered a canoe filled with letters and petitions representing more than 35,000 people.

They were met with a strong police presence and a fence barring entry to the legislative buildings.

The signatures delivered were collected from petitions and online actions from Leadnow, the David Suzuki Foundation, Amnesty International, and the Council of Canadians.

Other groups involved in the day’s action, included the Canadian Labour Congress, CUPE, and Free Grassy.

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Blueberry River is overrun with development

Author: 
By Andrea Smith Windspeaker Contributor Blueberry River First Nation, B.C.
Volume: 
34
Issue: 
9
Year: 
2016

The Blueberry River First Nation now has substantial evidence their traditional territory is being infringed upon.

In fact, it’s being more than infringed upon, according to a report released by the First Nation, with help from the David Suzuki Foundation, and EcoTrust Canada.

The three parties worked together to develop The Atlas of Cumulative Landscape Disturbance, and uncovered disturbing statistics about the commercial use of Blueberry River First Nation’s traditional lands.

The most significant finding is that 84 per cent of their territory is currently impacted by industrial activity of some kind.

“Elders and land users give me daily reports of continuing damage to our lands and water… Development has extinguished our traditional way of life on wide areas of our land," said Chief of Blueberry River, Marvin Yahey.

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Len Marchand [footprints]

Author: 
By Dianne Meili
Volume: 
34
Issue: 
9
Year: 
2016

Scholar and politician succeeded despite Indian Act restrictions

 

At a time when his people were so restricted by the Indian Act they were barely surviving, Len Marchand began his rise to the highest ranks of power in this country.

“He was born into a world of Indian agents, where his people could not vote, and where a university degree or serving in the war meant losing your status and the right to live on the land,” wrote Lori Marchand in a tribute to her dad on his 80th birthday.

A teacher in a one-room schoolhouse who believed in the accomplishments of his elementary students sent the Skilwh (Okanagan First Nation) man on his way to becoming the first status Indian to graduate from a public high school in Vernon, B.C.

He completed grades 12 and 13 in one year, and entered the University of British Columbia the next.

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Treaty Six Grand Chieftainship transfer ceremony

Author: 
Photos: Bert Crowfoot
Volume: 
34
Issue: 
9
Year: 
2016

The Treaty Six Grand Chieftainship was transfered from Grand Chief Chief Tony Alexis to the new Grand Chief Randy Ermineskin, after the Grand Entry at the Alexis First Nation Powwow on Friday night, July 8, 2016.

Former Alexis chiefs and other chiefs from the Treaty Six Confederacy were in attendance.

Chief Tony Alexis was gifted a teepee for his work of the past year from the Confederacy.

Visit the Gallery

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Miss Universe Canada provides Metis winner a cosmic stage

Author: 
By Shari Narine Windspeaker Contributor MOOSE JA
Volume: 
34
Issue: 
8
Year: 
2016

 

Losing her home in a fire in 2009 opened the door to beauty pageants for Siera Bearchell, crowned only last weekend as Miss Universe Canada.

In receiving help from the Canadian Red Cross when her family lost their house, Bearchell started volunteering for the organization. It was during that time that she heard about Miss Teen Saskatchewan.

“I thought it would give me a bigger platform to make a difference for people and maybe across the country,” she said.

Now as Miss Universe Canada, Bearchell, 23, has an even bigger platform.

She says it is still sinking in that she won the title. She was crowned in Toronto on June 11, beating out 61 other delegates. In 2013, she was runner-up for the title.

“I still can’t believe it. It’s exciting. It’s surreal,” she said.

Not only does Bearchell plan to continue to use the title as a platform to deliver valuable messages, she plans to continue to breakdown stereotypes.

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Cuba plays the tourists with a topless fantasy Indigenous ritual [column]

Author: 
By Drew Hayden Taylor, Windspeaker Columnist
Volume: 
34
Issue: 
8
Year: 
2016

Most would consider a trip to a Cuban resort to be one of pleasant distractions; warm sand, rum and a rather shallow excursion into another culture. This is what my partner and I thought when we visited Cuba several weeks ago. 

It seemed obvious to us that in the months ahead, more and more Americans would be flooding the beaches and gradually Kardashianizing the whole island. I had been to Cuba once before, in 1983, and was eager to see it again before the Golden Arches started popping up underneath every palm tree.

Still, it’s not exactly the place one would expect to experience a slight, if not annoying, artistic and existential crisis of Aboriginal proportions.

It was a hot sunny day, as is frequently experienced in Cuba, and a horde of resort refugees were swarming the countryside, expecting to experience a river excursion. It was to be a lovely half-hour trip down an isolated, fresh water, winding river.

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Rich lacrosse history to be celebrated

Author: 
By Sam Laskaris
 Windspeaker Contributor MONTREAL
Volume: 
34
Issue: 
8
Year: 
2016

It seems only fitting that a major celebration of lacrosse next year will be staged in Montreal, and more specifically at McGill University.

Plans for the 150th Anniversary of Lacrosse Celebration were announced at a news conference on Wednesday. The event is scheduled for a year from now, June 16 to June 18 in 2017.

The festivities will include re-created games, showing the transition of lacrosse through the years. These games will not only feature participants with authentic sticks from yesteryear, they’ll also be adorned in wardrobe from those who played the game more than a century ago.

Various First Nations rituals, which were staged before and after games, will also be incorporated into the re-created games.

Besides various tournaments (it has yet to be determined what ages will be involved), the event will also include presentations and lectures on the history of lacrosse, as well as numerous other topics involving the sport.

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Nishnawbe Aski Nation youth tell it like it is [editorial]

Author: 
Windspeaker Staff
Volume: 
34
Issue: 
7
Year: 
2016

Speak truth to power. That’s what a delegation of young men and women of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation did when they visited “The Hill” in Ottawa June 13 to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

They talked with him about how Canada has left them behind on housing, education, clean water and health services. They shared stories of the challenges they face, their lack of prospects for a better future, and suicides in their communities when friends and family just give up hope.

They did us all proud. Walking into the den of the lion is not an easy thing to do, but the group of about 20 youth were prepared, strong and courageous. They represented their communities with confidence and grace. They were the best of us.

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